“When they first said I’ll be working at ‘Main Beach’ I thought I was working at the surf club down the road!” smiles Josh, who works mainly on reception and commutes most days on his beloved e-scooter. “There was a bit of uncertainty at first as it’s very different to my previous jobs in hospitality. But I’m so much happier here, I haven’t had a single issue with my mental health. I’ve never had an anxiety attack or even a moment thinking, ‘I don’t want to do this’.”
According to Omnia Inclusive Workplace Consultant Michelle Prestipino, who has known and supported Josh for three years, a big part of his successful career change has been finding an employer who understands his needs and wider life situation. “When Josh finished up at his last job he felt really defeated,” explains Michelle. “He was being pulled all over the place, especially roster wise, which was creating issues with his mental health. When he started here at Main Beach Tourist Park it was totally different. He just fit in straight away.”
“Right from the beginning Derrin and his team (from Mantra Park Management) have been so supportive of Josh and very open to accommodating his needs,” she continues. “Often, we find the support of the employer is more important than the actual job itself and that’s exactly what has happened for Josh. It makes a huge difference.”
“We’ve had nothing but success since bringing Josh in and developing him,” says his proud boss, Derrin Drew. “He’s very different to the rest of our team, and that’s exactly what I enjoy – he adds an element we didn’t have and wouldn’t have without him. He’s a really conscientious and hard worker. It’s been a privilege to see him grow into the valuable employee he has become.”
Derrin explains a big part of this growth has come from understanding Josh’s mental health characteristics and finding ways to work with – rather than against – them. “Very quickly, we realised Josh is a really good learner. He’s a bit of a sponge,” laughs Derrin. “Keeping him engaged can sometimes be a bit of a challenge because he soaks stuff in so quickly, he’s ready to move on to the next thing. As part of that, we make sure we always have new things lined up for him to do, whether it’s just refining an internal process or helping him deepen his understanding of the whole industry. That’s really important for Josh – and it works for us too!”
Josh has worked with other DES providers over the years, but he feels this time has been genuinely different. “I’ve been at other places and they don’t do nearly as much for you. But Omnia Inclusive really helps me understand what’s happening and they listen to me. Every week or every two, Michelle will sit down and chat with me over the phone, or in person. ‘How have you been? Is there anything that we can improve on?’ She’s always there for me and always give me options. It’s more of a friendship which is really nice.”
Equally as strong is the ongoing partnership between Omnia Inclusive and Main Beach Tourist Park. “We’ve tried other job agencies and it’s been very hit and miss,” explains Derrin Drew. “But from the outset this has been a much better experience, so much so that we now see Omnia Inclusive as an integral part of our business. They really understand us, not only what we need, but also what we already have. They understand how their candidates might fit well with the other people in our team. It’s been an absolute watershed for us.”
“Personally, one of the beauties of working with Omnia Inclusive has been the way they’ve opened my eyes to different types of people I perhaps wouldn’t have encountered previously. Josh is a great example of that, but there are plenty of others who have come through the business, some who are still here. Just because someone is a little different to what you had in mind when you wrote the job ad, doesn’t mean they’re not going to work out. In fact, in many cases it means they’re going to work out better than you could have ever expected!”
Josh’s time at Main Beach Tourist Park has filled him with a newfound confidence and positivity. But it’s also redefining his plans for the future. “I used to think maybe I’d like to own a bar,” he says. “But working here has made me really realise that I love working in tourism and I’m thinking ‘where can I take this as a career, where can I go from here?’ I already have a Certificate Three in Hospitality and a Certificate Two in Tourism. Now with the support of Derrin and Omnia Inclusive I’m looking to complete my Certificate Three in Tourism. That will really set me up for the future.”
Michelle Prestipino has no doubt he’ll be successful. “Josh is an amazing young man and he’s already come a long way,” she says. “He’s pushed through a lot of boundaries and barriers to be where he’s now and I’m really proud of what he has achieved. He still has a long way to go, but I’m really confident that one day Josh will be the manager here. Derrin will be out of a job!”
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